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Friday, March 27, 2009

Summer of Love Revisited

Shh! Don't ever tell my parents. They'd kill me. Well, maybe not at this point in my life but they certainly would have way back then....when it happened. My buddy Dan at Dan Nation published this with regard to Woodstock. And his posting reminded me of one that I did regarding the Summer of Love. And all of that led to a brief email exchange between Dan and I in which I confessed something horrible: That I've got an overpowering alter ego hiding inside longing to get out. It's one that could easily have been happy in the late 1960s and 1970s having fun hanging out in the back of a Chevy van, wearing bell-bottomed jeans and no shirt, skipping the deodorant, and going barefoot. Traveling, free and easy, no job, no nothing. Just me, my friends, and the road beneath us. And that email exchange reminded me of something that I'm not sure I've ever told my mom. In fact, I'm not so sure she needs to know it.

We lived in Boise, a small city in southwest Idaho, growing up. We lived on a dead end road. It was quiet. Not much going on. We lived next to an elementary school playground. We'd make our way through the playground to go up to the neighborhood grocery store but only after getting special permission to make that long journey (it was probably 1/8 of a mile or so). After the school, we'd pass the local drive-in hamburger joint, and right straight up the back alley where the trucks would deliver the goods to the grocery store. And that's where I found myself one summer afternoon somewhere around 1970. I'm not sure what my mom's grocery list included that day. Or if, just perhaps, I'd snuck away without telling anybody where I was going. But I do remember coming out of the store. I think I had my bicycle with me on this particular trip. The store had a large parking lot in the front of it. And somehow, I found myself way out on the far edge of the parking lot at a van. Like a VW van. The back was popped open. You know, it was a hot summer Idaho day and things were easy and quiet. I've always been the inquisitive sort of dude. There were several guys and several girls both inside of it and hanging around on the outside, sitting around in lawn chairs next to the van. It was obvious looking back that they lived in it and were traveling around in it. I remember beads around necks and, yes, flowers in the hair. The long hair. I also remember, somehow, having a conversation with these kids -- I'm sure they couldn't have been much more than mid-20s. I've always been one for striking up easy conversations with anybody, whether I know them or not....even as an 8-year-old child. I hung out there for what seemed like all afternoon. I remember them smoking. And I remember the smell....maybe pot or patchouli oil or incense. I don't ever remember being scared or feeling unsafe. I don't remember them trying to seduce me or lure me into the van. I just remember great conversation, the beads, the long hair, the smell of whatever they were smoking. The girls were in long sort of dress things. They were all very nice to me. And I remember that I was there so long that I ended up saying, "I'd better go home now before my mom wonders where I am."

But what's funny is that I distinctly remember NOT wanting to go home. I remember wanting to travel, to jump right into that van with them. Like I said earlier, I don't know if my mom ever knew what I'd been up to. She'd probably have shot me (like she had very good reason to many times during my childhood). Yes, me and the Summer of Love have strong ties. It started way back then and I'm afraid it continues right on into today.

15 comments:

WAT said...

OOOOO! HIPPIE LOVE! HIPPIE FRIENDSHIP EARLY ON BABY!

Good story. Crank up The Beatles now...

See? Idaho wasn't THAT bad.

Stephen said...

Great Post!
I feel lucky to have been a kid in 50s, teenager & young man
in the 70s & partnered & happy by the 80s...
but, '67-'72 was fun!
I tricked my parents into letting me go to S.F. in spring '68 under the guise of "looking at colleges"...
I had me some fun!!!!

Java said...

This is the second blog post I've read today about that desire to lead a nomadic life. I'm feeling it myself, but rarely is that wanderlust far from my mind. This time of year really stokes it up.

I have long believed that I was born half a generation too late. You and I were born in the same year. That hippie gypsy lifestyle fascinated me when I was too young to live it, as well as when I was old enough but the trend had passed. Disco and Hippie do not go together!

Mark in DE said...

Considering your occupation, this post makes SO much sense. I have a friend in the same occupation as you who tried to 'settle down' for a while, but his wunderlust wouldn't let him. He's seen every corner and every inch of the world, I'm sure. Its worked for him.

DanNation said...

Well, if you ever want to quit our jobs and shed our shirts and shoes, travel around the country in a VW bus and grow our hair and beards, I'm your perfect travel partner.

Of course, you already knew that.

bridgeout said...

What a cool story... Love it! Such a different world then.
My honey is a total hippie and I often think she was born just a little "late." I think she would love to live that kind of life! In fact, we have 3 VW vans here that she is hoping to turn into just the one perfect hippie van someday. :)

Gregorio said...

Wow, what a cool story. Those people sound just like my friends in Philly, ha ha! :) Good summer memory; I'm ready for summer...already!! Last weekend here in Madrid we hit 73 degrees F!! :)

Grego

Ultra Dave said...

I would love to do something like that now.

annie said...

ah, you're playing my song brother! i could so easily have been one of those long hair, funny-smelling, wispy hippies. oh, maybe i am!

hee hee hee. see ya tomorrow!

Jim said...

I think in today's high-stress times many of us are wishing we could do that! I would!

Ur-spo said...

I enjoyed this.

Children have a good intuition and they are better at grasping what who they are and what calls them.

Perhaps you have not really lost this child?

Anonymous said...

I too could have spent my life on
the road...Taking odd jobs...
Ya know...A friend of ours (who
passed away) and her husband were
like that...They would just pack
up and move to another state or
just hike in another country...
They lived on a sail boat for a
couple of years...

TACKLE YOU HUGS!!!!!!!!!

Laurie

Billy said...

Just buggering it all and living from the seat of my pants sounds really good right now...

Great story L!

Breenlantern said...

it really is amazing how so many of us have desires like this. To be from the trap of daily responsibility and routine, especially now when we are learning that there is really no security in anything anymore: relationships, jobs, homes or health. My own wanderlust has grown exponentially Nd I look ahead and can't help being drawn to the road less taken.

If you get that van, save a seat for me...

tomaspdx said...

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" I feel blessed to remember those grass roots times, however young I was. Funny how a song or a memory from that time will bring back a feeling of simplicity or soulfulness.